For Fullers, Home Is Where the Mart Is: Holdouts They’re Not
NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas (AP) _ Paul and Freida Fuller can shop from home, where they don’t even need to use the telephone. Just next door are a supermarket, electronics store and other shops.
The Fullers’ green- and white-trim brick home and one-acre lot is surrounded by Richland Centre’s large parking lot and a street leading into the Fort Worth area mall.
What started out several years ago as a standoff with developers over a buyout price has turned into a celebration of the Fullers’ roots in the North Texas city.
``It has been a nice place to live for more than 20 years,″ said Mrs. Fuller, 63. ``The times have changed and we knew they would. As long as we like it, we don’t see any point in moving. It is hard to find another place that is so convenient to everything and to get some privacy.″
The couple’s daughter, Devra Fuller, says her parents don’t want to leave, even now.
``Taxes are the reason that they put it up for sale last year,″ she said. ``They doubled last year and (are) poised to do it again. They are claiming a commercial value, not a residential value.″
The Fullers’ ranch-style home was valued last year at $240,898, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District. That’s more than triple the 1992 and 1993 valuations of $78,199.
As a result, the Fullers’ annual tax bills climbed from $3,000 to an estimated $5,500 this year. The district said the proposed 1995 valuation of $480,898 has not yet been certified.
Even though developers have expressed interest in the Fullers’ home, the couple and their broker aren’t calling it a holdout.
``The guys never made them a decent offer,″ said Tom Metcalfe of the Weitzman Group’s Dallas commercial brokerage office. ``They just didn’t need them anymore. Now, as then, they are just living their lives.
``It wasn’t like they were trying to hold up the development,″ he said.
Indeed, development has gone on all around them.
A financial institution is under construction on the home’s south side off Texas 183. The one-story home faces a music store and other shops, with a gardening and pottery outlet to the north.
``I think of it as if you had a flat in the middle of New York City,″ Mrs. Fuller said. ``It is just activity going on all the time. It is not dull _ watching the people and shoppers.″
Recently, a California company filmed the Fullers in three commercials for a national advertising campaign promoting its new low fat ice cream. The campaign features the couple’s uncompromising lifestyle at their shopping center residence.
``The Dreyer’s Ice Cream ads have provided us with enough money to pay the taxes this year,″ Mrs. Fuller said. ``If this is a success and the series goes on, we will get paid again.″
During the daylong shoot, the Fullers were pleased with showcasing their home, although they were somewhat tired by the fast-paced filming.
``But the ice cream is very good,″ said Fuller, 72, who usually buys vanilla but has been trying other flavors.
The 30-second nationwide spots, which also feature owners of a Stradivarius violin and antique car, were scheduled to air later this year in Texas.
``What we liked about Frieda’s and Paul’s story is that they have this home that they raised their kids in, they love their mulberry trees and they don’t want to give it up,″ said Gail Piper of San Franciso, Calif.-based Goldberg Moser O’Neill, which shot the Dreyer’s ads.
``And they stayed in what for them was a house of memories and let the shopping mall happen around them,″ she said. ``What’s interesting about it is that when you have people who refuse to compromise in certain ways, they make decisions that strike the rest of us as rather odd, but it’s their set of priorities.″
The concrete-and-steel mall development was not envisioned when the couple moved in 1969 to what was then a rural area, said Devra Fuller, who grew up in the house.
``We raised horses here,″ said Ms. Fuller, 35, now a marketing administrator who lives in Arlington. ``I had a couple of horses for myself. We had chickens, dogs and cats.″
A riding club and an arena for ``play days″ _ small rodeos _ were just down the lane.
Recent asking prices for the Fuller home have ranged from about $800,000 to $970,000. But so far, developers haven’t bitten.
``He (Fuller) didn’t need them. He didn’t do anything with them,″ said Metcalfe. ``People stopped calling them.
``We think we made everybody mad,″ he quipped.
For Devra Fuller, the development, sale discussions _ even the sight of video production trucks and cables around the chain-link fenced compound _ were disconcerting.
``It was really just a shock to see all of it,″ she said.
Said Ms. Piper, ``They are real people with an enormous amount of charm and a really interesting lifestyle, and they have paid a price for keeping their home. And that’s the principle _ that they would do that.″
End Adv for Sunday, July 16, and thereafter